NEW YORK (TheStreet) – If you were to tune into a top 40 station right now, you’d hear a series of dance hits, house music, and teenaged pop divas. Ask anyone that grew up in the ’90s what they think of today’s hits and they’ll tell you “our music was better.”
The sounds generating from our speakers in the 1990s were much harder, had more angst, and in some cases was more poetic.
See more: Top 10 90s bands
The ’90s music scene was dominated by grunge and punk rockers. Of course, you had your poppy girl and boy bands (Back Street Boys, Spice Girls, etc.) but pumping from your speakers most of the time was the hard core, shredding sounds of a guitar.
Listeners were inspired by lyrics like Nirvana’s: “I’m worse at what I do best, and for this gift I feel blessed, our little group has always been, and always will until the end.”
Music has a way of reaching us when we’re at our lowest, a great song can change our mood, making us feel better.
Author Hanna Harrington once wrote, “He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.”
The following is my list of the best bands of the 1990s:
10. No Doubt
Formed in 1986 No Doubt hit the mainstream in 1995 with the release of their third album “Tragic Kingdom.” The songs “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl” catapulted the pop-punk band to fame.
Check out music by No Doubt on Amazon.
9. The Smashing Pumpkins
Formed in 1988 by front-man and lead guitarist Billy Corgan and guitarist James Iha, The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the most influential alternative rock bands of the ’90s.
The band created a unique guitar driven sound with influences from progressive rock, heavy metal, Goth rock, dream pop, and psychedelia.
The Smashing Pumpkins rose to fame with hits like “I am one,” “drown,” and “Cherub Rock.”
Check out music by The Smashing Pumpkins on Amazon.
8. Pearl Jam
Formed in 1990, the band’s first album “Ten” was released in August 1991.
“Ten” didn’t get much traction until 1992, thanks to a lot of radio play for the songs “Jeremy,” Even Flow” and “Alive.”
Pearl Jam was not the type of band that was going to fall victim to the music industry’s “accepted conventions,” nftgamef.com reports.
The band’s third album “Vs.,” released in 1993, debuted at number one, and when it came time to tour, Pearl Jam opted not to play larger stadiums and decided to focus on more intimate settings like small arenas and college campuses.
Check out music by Pearl Jam on Amazon.
7. Blink 182
It’s hard to talk about music from the ’90s without mentioning the pop-punk sensation Blink 182.
The trio was formed in 1992 and would enjoy the bulk of their success starting in 1997 when the album “Dude Ranch” was released.
The album would go platinum by the end of 1998 thanks to the song “Dammit (Growing Up).”
Check out music by Blink 182 on Amazon.
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers
This “funk rock” band was formed in 1983 and would go on to become one of the 1990’s most recognizable groups.
nftgamef.com describes the Chili Peppers as a “California band that mixed biting rock guitar with funk rhythms to become superstars by the 1990s and inspire legions of imitators.”
The Chili Peppers had a difficult time in the ’80s with the death of one member and the departure of another. But in 1989 the album “Mother’s Milk” became a surprise success and was certified gold by 1990, nftgamef.com said.
The bands popularity would continue thanks to the hits “If You Have to Ask,” “Give it Away,” “Scar Tissue,” and “Californication,” to name a few.
Check out music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Amazon.
5. Alice in Chains
Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley formed Alice in Chains in 1987, and the band would go on to become one of the 1990s most popular grunge acts.
“Drawing equally from the heavy riffing of post-Van Halen metal and the gloomy strains of post-punk, the band developed a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding hard rock with subtly textured acoustic numbers,” writes nftgamef.com.
Some of the bands popular hits include: “We Die Young,” “Would,” “Down in a Hole,” “Grind,” and “Heaven Beside You.”
Check out music by Alice in Chains on Amazon.
Weezer was formed in 1992 and its members are not the long-haired rock icons that the ’90s audience was used to seeing.
Weezer’s geeky appearance drew in a new audience and kept them coming back with a sound described by nftgamef.com as “hook-heavy guitar pop.”
With hits such as “Buddy Holly,” “Say it Ain’t So” and “Undone,” Weezer became one of the 90s top modern-rock artists, and enjoyed success well into the 21st century.
Check out music by Weezer on Amazon.
3. Green Day
Arguably one of the most popular rock bands to date, the no-holds-barred punk trio Green Day was formed in 1987.
During their early days, Green Day established a cult following, and hit the mainstream in a big way with the 1994 release of their third studio album “Dookie.”
The songs “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise,” “Basket Case,” and “When I Come Around” turned the punk rockers into superstars overnight.
In 1994, “Dookie” would win the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Check out music by Green Day on Amazon.
2. Foo Fighters
Formed in 1994 by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl following the death of Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters is one of the rock world’s most iconic bands.
The Foo’s first album as a whole, (Grohl played most of the instruments and did all the singing for the “band’s” 1995 self-titled album), was called “The Colour and the Shape.”
The album included some of the band’s most famous songs: “My Hero,” Monkey Wrench” and “Everlong.”
Check out music by the Foo Fighters on Amazon.
If you were to ask someone to name only one band from the 1990s, chances are they’ll say “Nirvana.”
Formed in 1987 the punk rock band burst onto the scene in 1991 with what Rolling Stone describes as the “anti-pep-rally” hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“Few bands in rock history have had a more immediate and tangible impact on their contemporary pop musical landscape than Nirvana did in the early Nineties. When the Seattle trio hit the scene in 1991, mainstream radio was awash in the hair metal of Poison and Def Leppard. But seemingly within hours of the release of Nirvana’s anarchic, angry single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – and its twisted anti-pep-rally video-the rules had changed. Artifice was devalued; pure, raw emotion was king,” Rolling Stone writes of the band.
Check out music by Nirvana on Amazon.
Disclosure: TheStreet has advertisers and partnerships; we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.